Impressed with the depth of the interview
Meet Cody Driver
Gianna: Cody—Welcome to Studio Sundays! Stoked to have you here. Let's dive in. When was the first time you remember being creative and what inspired you?
Cody: I've always been creative, because my family has always been creative. As a child, my dad and grandma were artists, both painters. The outdoors and creativity have always gone hand in hand for me. My grandma lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, and my dad lived up there for several years when he was a kid.
But it wasn't until college that I realized creativity was the passion I wanted to follow. I went to San Diego State as a physical therapy major and realized that wasn't what I wanted to be. I wanted to do something where I could fuse creativity and the outdoors together. There, I decided to become a graphic designer, because I felt like I had it in me all along. From a young age I would paint, color, and sketch all the time, and that's really where it all started. It's been in my family and I've kept it going.
Gianna: Were your parents full-time artists when you were a kid?
Cody: Yes, my dad started out painting and then when I was born he switched to graphic design. As you know, paintings are hard to sell. I'm glad he went that route because it made me see the path to graphic design. I'm in that niche right now and can say that “I love what I'm doing.” Then when I became a graphic designer, I would create something and show it to my dad for feedback. He was like my art director—always brutally honest. He helped me realize if I wanted to take this seriously, I had to put time, effort, and thought into it.
Gianna: You left San Diego and went to Sun Valley to work for Crown Union. How did your time in Sun Valley impact you creatively, leaving the coast and going into the mountains? Did you notice a difference in your creativity?
Cody: I think it was the best thing for me. After I graduated college, I decided I was going to drive up the coast. I went all the way from California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. I drove around, camped, and I was willing to take the risk to find opportunities. Luckily, I got an interview with Crown Union on the road.
I love Sun Valley. It's been such a big part of my life from childhood on. I'm so grateful I lived up there for those two and a half years. To live in a wild place where there's no one around and I can be out on weekends and after work, fly fishing and hiking. Feeling truly by yourself in nature. It's definitely helped my creativity.
Gianna: You're now located on the California coast south of LA, working as a graphic designer for RVCA. Are you still able to integrate outdoor adventure into your life?
Cody: Totally. I go camping at least every other week. A six hour road trip is not bad for me, I've driven to Sun Valley so many times—that's like thirteen hours. Drives for me even help the creativity part too. Road trips are where I get inspired. If I'm just stagnant in the same spot, I can tell that my creativity isn't the same.
This winter, my buddy and I are thinking about going to Taos. Then this summer, I planned a bunch of trips. I just got back from Big Sur last week, surfed and camped up there. We have Joshua Tree down here, too, which is pretty accessible, plus a bunch of BLM land. That's what's awesome about California: if you drive six hours from where you're at, you can find an open space. But I definitely miss the outdoors atmosphere of Idaho.
Gianna: You broke your collarbone in Sun Valley. Were you doing something active?
Cody: Yes, I was snowboarding. Flat light got me and I flew in the air and landed on my collarbone. Physical injuries and illness seem to tell me when I'm going down the wrong path. In my creative career, before I changed from physical therapy to graphic design, I got really sick and thought I had cancer. That's what made me switch to pursuing creativity. Later when my collarbone broke, my boss had just cut my hours and pay two days before. I didn't know what to do.
Gianna: That's the worst! I've been there. Injuries have a way of redirecting our energy and attention. How did that injury reroute you?
Cody: Having a broken collarbone to heal gave me perspective. You realize how important a healthy body is and how you can take that for granted. When you're hurt, you just feel like you're missing out. It definitely changed my outlook on taking advantage of the outdoors and using it as much as possible.
I got blessed with the RVCA job, too. I was on a six week snowboard road trip and got an offer from RVCA. I've been there now for the last two and a half years. RVCA is very artist focused. With my skill set, I am always working with the artist projects and nonstop campaigns. That's really changed my perspective too. Doing stuff for the artists, editing videos, making whole campaigns for them, I get to pick their brains. That's helped me figure out what I want to be doing moving forward as well.
Gianna: What is your main role at RVCA?
Cody: At RVCA, I'm a Digital Designer. I do anything digital, social, paid social, web campaign. Whatever art our artists give us, I make it come to life through animations. The good thing about RVCA is I have total freedom. It's not like someone's telling me how to do A, B, and C. They're like, “Here's the art, do what you want with it.” With that freedom, I've been able to create rad stuff. I started doing animation when I broke my collarbone because companies wanted to add infographics here and there. To be able to do that for other artists is a special thing.
Gianna: People often talk about how it's a hard time in our world right now. What trends are you seeing amongst the artists you work with, or maybe in the corporate world, that actually excite you for the future?
Cody: I feel like we're at this point right now where the whole outdoor industry is a little off. It's a little down in the dumps and kind of funky. But looking at patterns in the history of this industry, I think this is going to bring growth and creativity. It’s going to bring it back to the grimy and gritty style that we've kind of lost.
What I see especially in the arts is a return to the grittiness of going out there and actually doing stuff. Staying away from being so “sell-y.” How can we be showing, not telling adventures? I think that's the route we're going. A lot of creative stories are going to be put out and I think they're going to be done properly.
Gianna: What advice would you give to a budding outdoor creative enthusiast that's looking kind of like finding footing in the industry?
Cody: Work on your stuff first; your personal projects will get you everything. If you keep on doing stuff for yourself, people will see your creativity and they'll want you to be a part of their brand. Go out and actually be on the road doing those creative things—that's how you get to be in this industry. You have to go and do the gritty stuff while being creative. Because that's what that's what the industry needs.Storytelling is the number one factor behind it all and there's always a niche out there.
I always recommend starting with small companies too. I've talked to a bunch of younger people who have tried to go straight to the big companies like RVCA. But I would recommend the small companies, since those are the ones that still have that core to them—they're just trying to do something based off an activity. Helping those brands out really helps you, because you see how you can contribute your passion and how they can contribute to your passion. It's a good cycle and it's a good way to actually like get a foot in the door.
Gianna: That's great. I know myself and many of our readers out there will be taking this advice home with us today. Getting gritty with Cody! Thank you so much for joining us on Studio Sundays today.
Check out more of Cody's work: